As part of the ‘pingdemic’, spending time in isolation has been par for the course these past few weeks. This, combined with house-sitting in Stoke Newington, has lent itself to much window-gazing and imagining of the outdoors.

Perhaps this longing to be outside has brought about a heightened awareness of its sounds, sights and smells. In intervals between local building works taking place, the ‘screaming’ sound of swifts can be heard swooping through rooftops. Their flight lifts the imagination into a bird’s-eye-view of the area, joining together jigsaw pieces of Hackney usually acquired by bike, bus or tube.

Ham & High: Alice Bonifacio has been longing for the outdoorsAlice Bonifacio has been longing for the outdoors (Image: Alice Bonifacio)

Swifts are no stranger to Stoke Newington, although their population has fallen by more than half in the past 25 years. A few years ago, a local was interviewed by the Hackney Gazette about their steep decline, blaming gentrification and housing renovations. Swifts rely on small nooks and crannies in buildings to make nests which, when faced with the much needed improvement of insulation and energy efficiency of our homes, presents itself as a dilemma. Hackney Swifts provide information on how to protect our winged neighbours, including how to fit bird boxes to attract these migrants during the summer months. You can even download the RSPB app Swift Mapper to help track their nesting spots.

With a delayed start to the summer, you may still catch a fleeting glimpse of a box, a drift or swoop of swifts in the air before returning to warmer climes for the winter months.